Participants of an internet treasure hunt which has become a worldwide phenomenon are endangering the fabric of one of the UK’s most picturesque streets, warn local residents.
The Shambles in York, the iconic street favoured by tourists visiting the medieval city, has become a playground for players of Geocache, a leisure activity than involves searching using a Global Positioning System (GPS) device to track down small containers in various locations.
A typical ‘cache’ is a small waterproof box, containing assorted trinkets and a logbook. People locate the vessel, log its co-ordinates on their device before going home and posting the whereabouts on a website for others to find.
Some, however, have been attempting to climb drainpipes attached to historic buildings on the Shambles, misguidedly believing the prize to be hidden on roofs or in wooden beams.
This has angered shopkeepers on the street. Some buildings date back as far as the fourteenth century and players have seemingly ignored rules on the main geocaching website that recommend areas of historic value are avoided.
This isn't the first time the geocaching craze has led to complaints. In 2011, the nearby Yorkshire town of Wetherby was under high alert after bomb disposal squads and armed police were called after local shop-owners noticed a geocache competitor acting suspiciously, placing a package under a flowerbed in the centre of the market town.
Recently in Kansas City in the US police cordoned off an intersection fearing a harmless geocache was a suspicious package.
The game was first played in May 2000 and has since become popular the world over amongst intrepid outdoor lovers and families seeking a sense of adventure.
However, there have been increased calls over the years for more control over the over-exuberant participants.